WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 21, 2015) — The Organization of Chinese Americans – Asian Pacific American Advocates, a national membership-driven organization of community advocates dedicated to advancing the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs), welcomes the President’s policy recommendations in his address to the American people.
“Last night, the President addressed many of the concerns in our community, particularly access. Among the issues mentioned, education and broadband access continue to be barriers for many within the Asian Pacific American community. Higher education continues to be a far reach for many APAs. Only 12 percent of Laotians, 14 percent of Hmong and Cambodians, and 18 percent of Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to the standard 28 percent of the general US population,” said Ken Lee, OCA National Acting Chief Executive. “The President’s push for affordable education, as well as apprenticeships, is a necessity for many in our communities, especially for those of us with the least access to four-year post-secondary institutions.”
“Similarly, as our country further moves online, increased access to fast and affordable broadband is more necessary than ever before. Although 81 percent of Asian Americans use broadband, we know that income, educational achievement, and cost are all indicators of how likely a household will be able to adopt it,” continued Lee. “Our communities encompass some of the highest poverty and lowest educational attainment rates within our country. Even though aggregated APA data show high adoption rates, that 81% hides broadband adoption and access disparities similar to those found in education, healthcare, and employment. The President’s plan will help make broadband more accessible for all Asian Pacific Americans.”
“We are heartened that the President called for political action beyond party silos, while also demonstrating that he will not let clear, societal injustices and inequities slide,” said Vicki Shu, OCA National Vice President of Public Affairs. “He has demonstrated his commitment to access and has already acted within his legal authority to improve our broken immigration system in lieu of a Congress that has consistently prioritized party politics over families. Just as the President renewed his hope for substantial Congressional action, we too call on Congress to come together and pass the reforms our communities have continuously requested. With over 1.3 million undocumented APA immigrants, and family members often waiting between up to 23 years to get a green card, Congress needs to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill, along with other laws necessary for all Americans to embrace their full civil liberties.”